Tebboune receives Polisario leader amid Hirak protests

Algerian President receives Ghali at presidential palace in Algiers in new sign of Algeria’s involvement in Sahara conflict.

LONDON - Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune received Thursday Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali at his presidential palace in Algiers as the North African country is seeing the revival of the anti-government Hirak protest movement that ousted Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019.

The meeting between Tebboune and Ghali is the first since he became president in December 2019 on a very low turnout in a poll boycotted by the protest movement.

“There is no solution to the Saharawi question apart from the self-determination of the Saharawi people. The Sahara issue is a decolonization issue,” said Tebboune on the occasion of his speech dedicated to the second anniversary of the Hirak.

Tebboune’s statement once again proved Algeria’s involvement in the Sahara conflict.

Algeria’s parliament, , which Tebboune dissolved on February 18, sent a letter to the US Congress and to the administration of President Joe Biden to call off former President Donald Trump’s recognition of the Moroccan Sahara and Morocco’s autonomy initiative, a realistic and logical solution to the conflict in the Sahara.

On December 10, Trump said that Morocco had been the first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation just a year after the US declared its independence from Britain in 1776.

“It is the US fitting we recognize their sovereignty over the Western Sahara,” Trump tweeted.

Trump said the aim of the consulate would be “to promote economic and trade opportunities in the region.”

Tebboune’s meeting with Ghali came on the backdrop of an international isolation of the so-called Polisario Front in the last few months following the separatist movement’s repeated violations of the UN-monitored buffer zone.

On November 14, the Moroccan army restored calm at the Guerguerat border crossing point with Mauritania three weeks after the Polisario Front militiamen blocked hundreds of trucks and following the United Nations peacekeepers’ failure to intervene to clear the separatists from buffer zone.

Road traffic through the border crossing point between Morocco and Mauritania resumed thereafter, dealing a huge blow to the separatists.

Pro-Algerian regime media had been leading a campaign of "lies and defamation" against Morocco and its king Mohammed VI since the Tebboune’s return from Germany where he had been treated for weeks for coronavirus while ignoring the demands of the Hirak.

Thousands of Algerians marched on February 22 in the capital and other cities to mark the second anniversary of the North African nation's anti-government protest movement against Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term and demand regime change.

Protesters called for Tebboune regime’s departure.

“We are not here to celebrate, but to demand your departure,” the protesters shouted, referring to a regime that they see as being little changed from the one headed for two decades by Bouteflika.